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  1. Hi all After over forty years the Cumbrian Coast line between Barrow in Furness and Whitehaven in the North West of England finally re-opened for Sunday Services on the 20th May. The last service was in 1976 and left some major tourist attractions accessible only by car or sporadic bus services at weekends. The new service had been trailed for a while but leading up to it there was some doubt about whether there would be sufficient traincrew to operate it. In the event a full service ran on that first day with 156 363 doing the honours with the first Barrow to Millom working. Not exactly rammed with passengers though! This unit, seen at Askam, returned about forty minutes later with a few pioneer passengers aboard. As the day drew on the higher capacity Class 156s started to make an appearance 156 445 in the new 'Whiter' Northern livery traverses the s curve at Thwaites Flats on the single line section between Park South and Barrow. Hard to believe that this bucolic setting was once a very busy triangular junction, double tracked, with a constant procession of Iron ore, Coke and finished steel trains running 24/7. 156 490 had come up from Carnforth and again was lightly loaded but ridership will evolve, particularly when the ral ale fans find they can get to the famous 'Prince of wales' at Foxfield pub on a Sunday with ease
  2. On the Cumbrian Coast line in North West England recent developments have seen Direct Rail Services Class 68 becoming more and more prominent. Reliability issues of the Class 37/4s tasked with hauling some of Northern Rail's passenger services has seen one set converted to 'Top and tailed' Class 68s retaining the DBSO driving car behind the south loco to provide train crew facilities. This set has worked pretty much faultlessly since deployment albeit with a loss of seating capacity. Alongside this the Nuclear traffic is now exclusively hauled by 68s with the occasional appearance by the new Class 88 hybrids. In a new development a 'Nenta' railtour also used T&T 68s on a Norwich-Carlisle and return excursion and recently two 68s were commandeered to haul the heavy Barrow-Drigg stone train after problems with the two Class 66s allocated to it More in a mo Kev
  3. Exciting times for U.K railfans as the Cumbrian Coast Rail line in North West England has the re-introduction of Locomotive hauled scheduled passenger trains after decades of being a DMU only line. to support the current franchise operator on the line 'Northern Rail' the freight operator 'Direct Rail Services' are supplying class 37s, Mk II coaches and train crews to provide more comfort and greater capacity on some of the busier trains. DRS had already started to support Scotrail by providing some of the new class 68s Bo-Bos and coaches to run the Fife circle around Edinburgh. The Cumbrian Coast line skirts the Irish Sea between the two historic rail towns of Carnforth and Carlisle and takes in spectacular scenery en route. One of the Class 37/4s is seen here at Green Road with the fells around Conston providing a backdrop. This location is on the westside of the Duddon estuary and on a quiet day you can hear the trains heading up and around the head of the bay for twenty or thirty minutes. Now the Class 37s allocated for the service are 37/4s equipped with ETS (Electric Train Supply) and were originally built between 1960 and 1966 by English Electric with 12CVST engines pumping out a modest 1750 HP, The 37/4s had the main generator replaced with an alternator. 37 423 'Spirit of the Lakes' is a typical finished in the latest DRS livery and here is seen on the rear of one of the early passenger trains at Askam in Furness station Now those of you who know British railways will immediately spot that the train seems to be on the wrong line, Not so, the train is running 'Top and tailed' with a Class 37 at either end and 37 423 is at the rear. The loco hauling the train is 37 609 a freight only loco at the leading end The trains are running in this formation until the DBSO coaches (Coaches with driving cabs) are ready for deployment when the trains will run in classic push-pull fashion. Running like this the rear 37 only provides the ETS supply in this direction but does everything on the retun leg with the 37/6 DIT (dead in train) 37 423 is seen again heading east on the steep bank from Dalton in Furness to Lindal in Furness which has always been a test of any loco. This is one of the test trains run before the service started properly to train the drivers and traincrew, mark out the platforms with the stopping points etc. You will notice the real mish-mash of coach colour schemes. Acquiring a large amount of loco hauled coaches in the U.K these days is really difficult and they come from various sources hence the mix of DRS, Virgin and Riviera liveries. Eventually they will all be finished in DRS blue/green and modernised internally. In the next instalment I'll show some of the other motive power used on the trains and link in the videos of the trains in action cheers Kev
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